The diagnosis of cavities has changed very little since the 1800's. Traditionally, cavities have been diagnosed by a “stick” of the dental explorer. X-rays and probing with an explorer are limited in detecting sub surface decay, particularly when the cavity is in its early stages. Once the cavity has progressed to the “stick” level, an injection is typically required to fill the tooth due to the advanced level of decay.

Prevention and education are now the standard of care in dentistry. Early detection of disease allows the dentist and hygienist to create a treatment plan for each patient that can possibly save teeth from larger fillings and the patient from painful injections. Our office uses one of the newest technologies, a DIAGNOdent laser to detect cavities in the early stages. This device scans your teeth with harmless laser light searching for hidden decay. This unique instrument provides instant feedback on the health of the tooth. A pen like probe simply glides over tooth surfaces constantly checking the health of the tooth. An alarm signals when there are signs of decay. This new technology is completely safe and pain free. The laser gives consistent results and reports accurately the amount of decay present. With early detection, air abrasion can be used, painlessly, to fill the teeth. Air abrasion is a device that uses high pressure sand particles to remove decalcified, diseased tooth structure. Patients have been very pleased with the ease and peacefulness of this technique. Apparently, patients really do not like the sound of the drill or the traditional injection techniques.

We encourage regular dental check-ups, cleanings and home care. Early detection of problems minimizes the expenses related to major tooth repair. New technologies take us a giant step forward to helping you achieve the goal of minimally invasive dentistry. For more information, please contact our office at 387-3844.


- Written by the Salem Times Register for Dr. Caroline Wallace.